The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘broccoli rabe’

The Maturing Palate

In General Articles on March 31, 2012 at 10:38 AM

As we mature, our palate does as well!  That statement is admittedly anecdotal and based solely on personal experience.  But think about it, how many foods did you as a child once eschew only to find yourself in later years enjoying, as if they were always a part of your diet?

My mature palate discoveries   have included Calves Liver, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli Rabe, Fish and Beets! Yes, beets; that deep-red, firm and smooth vegetable which resembles nothing else in taste or texture and that, when forced upon me as a child, produced an involuntary gag reflex, appear to be good for you , as mother always claimed, and they taste good as well.

Beets, also known as beetroots, can be boiled or roasted and eaten warm, as a side dish; boiled and pickled and eaten cold, as a side dish; boiled, not pickled and either warm or cold used in a salad, particularly with goat cheese, which has a great affinity for beets. Last week, while trolling the aisles of the supermarket, I spotted a great sale on beets, a bag of 12 for $3. Being unable to resist such a bargain, I threw the bag into my shopping cart with little thought as what to do with them.

Betty, having grown up with Pickled Beets as a mainstay in her family, knew exactly what to do with them. She boiled and peeled them, then pickled half of them, setting aside the other half, which she chilled and added to salads during the week. So after eating beets for the past week in these various forms, I am on to the next discovery.

Broccoli Rabe Sautéed in Garlic and Oil

In Recipes, Vegetables on November 21, 2011 at 7:12 PM


1 bunch of Broccoli Rabe (also called Broccoli di Rape, Rapini and Broccoli Rabb)
6 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil


1.    Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in 5 quart or larger pot.
2.    Rinse the Broccoli Rabe, discard the thick stems by cutting about 3 inches off the bottom of the bunch.
3.    When the water comes to a full boil, add the Broccoli Rabe and blanch it for 60 seconds.
4.    Strain Broccoli Rabe in a colander, and then plunge it immediately into a bowl filled with ice and cold water to stop the cooking and to retain its dark green color.

Blanched Broccoli Rabe Draining in Colander

5.    When cooled, transfer to a colander and drain until ready to sauté.
6.    In a sauté pan with low curved sides, heat the olive oil on high flame.
7.    When oil is shimmering, add the garlic and quickly sauté; do not let it brown.
8.    When the garlic is translucent* add the broccoli rabe and sauté for 3 minutes, tossing constantly with tongs.


9.    Remove from the pan with tongs and serve immediately.

Eat it! It's Good for You!

*Variation: At this point add ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed chili pepper, depending on taste, to the oil-garlic mixture before adding the broccoli rabe.

Also see: Eat it! It’s Good for You!

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

In Pasta on April 17, 2011 at 9:37 PM

This recipe will easily serve 8 people with leftovers.


1.25 lbs. sweet Italian sausage (about 5 links)
1.25 lbs. hot Italian sausage (about 5 links)

2 bunches (approx. 2lbs.) broccoli rabe

Ingredients for Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

½ cup + 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
12 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely
½ cup of dry white wine
2 lbs. of orecchiette pasta

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated Locatelli Romano cheese


1.    Bring a large (8 quart with a removable strainer) pot of water to boil for blanching the broccoli rabe, as well as for cooking the orecchiette.
2.    Remove sausage meat from its casings and discard the casings.
3.    Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy frying pan on medium heat.
4.    Add sausage meat to the hot oil, continuously breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon until it loses its pink color and is lightly browned-about 20 minutes. When sausage meat is cooked remove it to a bowl.

Lightly Browned Sausage Meat

5.    While the sausage is browning, rinse the broccoli rabe and discard the thick stems, cutting about 3 inches off the bottom. Then blanch the broccoli rabe in the boiling water for about 60 seconds.
6.    Remove the broccoli rabe, strain it and plunge it immediately into a bowl filled with ice and cold water to retain its dark green color. Reserve the blanching water for cooking the orecchiette, but remove about 4 cups to thin out the sauce later, if needed.
7.    When broccoli rabe is cool, chop it into pieces about 1 to1.25 inches in length.
8.    After removing the cooked sausage meat from the frying pan, add the ½ cup of olive oil to the pan, then add the chopped garlic and quickly sauté it on high heat. As the garlic begins to brown on the edges, add the hot pepper, then the broccoli rabe and sauté it for about 3 to 5 minutes so it does not lose it dark green color. Remove it from the pan and set it aside with the sausage meat.

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe

9.    Bring the blanching water to a boil once again, add the orecchiette and cook according to the directions on the package.

Completed Sauce

10.    In the meantime, turn the heat under the empty frying pan to high, add the ½ cup of dry white wine stirring up the solids on the bottom of the pan.
11.    Add back the cooked sausage and broccoli rabe to the pan mixing them together with the wine and solids; add some of the retained blanching water to thin out the sauce according to your preference. (I usually add about 2 cups.)

12.    When the orecchiette is al dente, drain it and mix it well with the sauce, adding more blanching water if necessary.
13.    Serve orecchiette, broccoli rabe and sausage in pasta bowls and sprinkle liberally with freshly ground black pepper and the grated cheese.

See Related Article at: Eat It! It’s Good for You




Eat It! It’s Good for You!

In General Articles on April 17, 2011 at 9:06 PM

‘Eat it,’ my mother insisted, ‘broccoli rabe is good for you. It is full of iron and vitamins and it will help you go to the bathroom.’ Words any child with sense would immediately cringe at; almost as bad as ‘eat your liver’ because you won’t be able to leave the table until you do. As a child and teenager, I recoiled from eating broccoli rabe because it was bitter, smelly, soggy and overcooked. Then one day, when I was in my twenties, attending the Feast of San Gennaro, which is held annually on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, downtown Manhattan, I was drawn to a sausage stand by the aroma of freshly grilled sausage, fried peppers and onions. They had the usual hot sausage and sweet sausage, plus a third kind, which I had never seen before. The cook told me it was made by mixing chopped broccoli rabe with pork and spices before stuffing it into the sausage casing. Being adventurous, I tried one and was pleasantly surprised at how the spiciness and sweetness of the sausage meat provided a perfect counterpoint to the bitterness of the broccoli rabe.

As time passed, I began to notice in the pasta section of the menus at several Italian restaurants, Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage. It had probably been there all along, but I am sure that my brain never noticed it because of my earlier aversion to the vegetable. Remembering the delicious sausage from the Feast, I worked up the courage to finally order it from one of those restaurants. The combination of chopped broccoli rabe and sliced sausage was the perfect accompaniment to the al dente pasta. As I mentioned earlier in Everybody has a Story, trying to re-create a dish that was first consumed in a restaurant is challenging and fun. This was one of them. I first tried making it with sliced sausage, then with cubes of cooked sausage, but neither of these seemed to appeal to me. After several variations I finally hit upon the best method to my taste, which is removing the sausage meat from the casing, blanching, chopping and then sautéing the broccoli rabe in garlic, adding some hot pepper and white wine, and mixing it all together.

I hope that you, your family and friends enjoy this recipe as much as I and mine do. Mother was right as usual, broccoli rabe is good for you, it is full of iron and vitamins, and when mixed together with sausage and pasta, it is irresistible. So, all of you mothers and fathers out there, this is a good way to get your child to eat his or her veggies! Mangia!

My mother also made a delicious one dish meal that she called Pasta Fazool. Actually many Italian-Americans refer to this macaroni and bean dish similarly. But it wasn’t until I spent some time in Italy that I found out that over there, particularly in Northern Italy, which has a totally different dialect from that of Southern Italy, it is called Pasta e Fagioli. Please read Pasta Fagioli, or Pasta Fazool? to find out more about this controversy.

%d bloggers like this: